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Saturday, December 10, 2022

First Pitch: Who Should Stay, Who Should Go From the Three-Headed First Base Platoon?

The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to have some interesting decisions to make at first base this off-season. And by “interesting decisions”, I mean they’ve got a group of players making a lot of combined money, with none of them coming off a good year at the first base position. The three-headed platoon of Pedro Alvarez, Ike Davis, and Gaby Sanchez will probably make around $13.5 M, which is a bit misleading, since the Pirates probably won’t be keeping Alvarez and Davis. The more accurate figure would be anywhere from $7-9 M, depending on which one of the lefties is retained. Or, there’s the possibility that the price could be $4.5-6.5 M, in the scenario that Gaby Sanchez is replaced.

Here is a look at the decisions for each side of the platoon, along with the approach I would take this off-season.

The Left-Hander

The bulk of any platoon is going to be taken up by the left-handed hitter, as a team will be going up against right-handed pitchers far more often than left-handed pitchers. That’s not to say that the right-hander isn’t important. It’s just that the left-hander is more important.

The two options for the Pirates are Ike Davis and Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez is perceived as the better choice between the two, although a look at the career numbers shows that Davis has actually been better.

Pedro Alvarez Career vs RHP: .792 OPS

Ike Davis Career vs RHP: .813 OPS

Both hitters struggled in 2014, and this time it was Alvarez who came out on top, although the difference was minimal.

Pedro Alvarez 2014 vs RHP: .770 OPS

Ike Davis 2014 vs RHP: .765 OPS

Even in their best years, Davis was better than Alvarez. Davis had an .868 OPS in 2012, and Alvarez posted an .842 OPS in 2013.

Davis is due a raise over his $3.5 M salary in 2014. Alvarez is due a raise over his $4.25 M salary, and will likely end up making more than Davis in 2015. There’s also the issue of Alvarez moving over from third base, and the first base position being new to him. That shouldn’t be a huge issue, although the third base aspect does add a few twists.

For one, third base could add value to a team that might want to trade for Alvarez. Davis is strictly a first baseman. Alvarez could be seen as a third baseman who is a bounce back candidate defensively. If that’s the case, his numbers look much better than the similar numbers from Davis, since they could come from a tougher position to fill.

On that same note, if the Pirates believe that Alvarez can play third base, then he could have value to them as a replacement for Josh Harrison if Harrison gets injured, or if Neil Walker gets injured and forces Harrison over to second base. Neal Huntington has said that they still see Alvarez as a third baseman, although that’s something they’d need to say no matter what, in order to preserve his trade value.

My opinion is that the Pirates should go with Davis, while trying to trade Alvarez. They could get more in return for Alvarez on the trade market, as there has to be some team out there thinking he can still play third base. Meanwhile, Davis has been slightly better than Alvarez in their careers, and was about the same as Alvarez in 2014, and is cheaper. If you think one player is going to bounce back, then you’d have to think both guys will bounce back. If they both return to their career numbers, Davis would be the guy to have in a platoon. On paper it looks like Davis would be better, cheaper, and Alvarez would lead to a bigger trade return.

The Right-Hander

The Pirates added Gaby Sanchez in the middle of the 2012 season, hoping to find their solution against left-handed pitching at first base. He was having a down year with the Marlins, posting a .674 OPS against lefties before the trade. After the deal he bounced back with a .799 OPS to end the season, followed by a .987 OPS during the 2013 season. The Pirates might have to hope for a repeat of that bounce back heading into the 2015 season.

Sanchez saw his numbers drop a bit this year, posting a .746 OPS against left-handers. That was largely inflated by a huge month in May. He posted an OPS under .600 in three of the final four months of the season. He is heading into his final year of arbitration, and could end up receiving $3 M. That price might be a little too steep due to the risk that his final four months provides.

Another option at first base against left-handers could be Tony Sanchez. The Pirates had the catcher getting reps at first base with Indianapolis at the end of the season, although that was mostly due to the presence of Elias Diaz behind the plate in Triple-A. He did struggle against lefties this year, with a .515 OPS. However, he crushed lefties last year, posting a .934 OPS. The Pirates might need Sanchez behind the plate, so he may not even factor into the first base discussion right away.

The options here aren’t very good, although they aren’t exactly good on the left-handed side of the platoon. Gaby Sanchez might be the best option, just based on his career numbers, plus the fact that you wouldn’t be depleting the catching depth by moving Tony Sanchez to first base. Granted, Sanchez could catch if needed, but he wouldn’t be getting any time working on his game behind the plate, which is something he needs.

The Platoon

The Ike Davis/Gaby Sanchez platoon didn’t work out this year. It might be the best choice the Pirates have next year, just hoping that this was just a down year and those two players revert to their career numbers. Dealing Pedro Alvarez would be a smart move, as he probably still has enough value to get a decent return. Tony Sanchez could work as a catcher, either splitting time with Elias Diaz in Triple-A, or serving as the backup in the majors.

The free agent route doesn’t look like it would provide any better options. The best options — Adam LaRoche and Adam Lind — aren’t even free agents yet and could have their options picked up by their teams. In the event that one of those two players becomes available, I’d definitely make a run for them. LaRoche seems more likely, and wouldn’t be bad on a short-term deal. I always liked him when he was with the Pirates, and felt he was treated unfairly due to the fact that he was expected to carry a lineup, when in reality he’s more of a support player. I’m just not confident that he’ll end up a free agent this year.

No matter who the Pirates go with internally, they have to be hoping for a bounce back season, and a fast arrival to the majors for Josh Bell.

Links and Notes

**Pre-Order the 2015 Prospect Guide

**AFL: Josh Bell Picks Up Key Hit in Scottsdale’s Comeback Win

**2014 Recaps: Getting Expensive Replacement Level Production From First Base

**The Early Look at the 2015 Draft Class Has Plenty of Pitching Near the Top

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


Pirates Prospects has been independently owned and operated since 2009, entirely due to the support of our readers. The site is now completely free, funded entirely by user support. By supporting the site, you are supporting independent writers, one of the best Pittsburgh Pirates communities online, and our mission for the most complete Pirates coverage available.

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Ike Davis and Pedro Alvarez are remarkably similar. They are almost exactly the same age (1 month apart). Their career WAR is essentially identical (5.9 for Alvarez and 5.8 for Davis). Their WAR in their best seasons is identical at 3.1 (2010 for Davis, 2013 for Alvarez). Alvarez has a higher career ISO, but he also strikes out more often and draws fewer walks. But even along those lines, their performances have been very similar.
I cannot think of two players who are more similar.
Alvarez will probably earn more next year, and his perceived trade value may be slightly higher due to the recency of his 3.1 WAR season and his cache as the number 2 overall draft selection. Therefore, I would try to trade Alvarez in order to maximize my payroll savings and also my return in a trade.
But it does not seem to make a huge difference either way.


LaRoche is a no go with me! I realize that maybe he was expected to carry too much of the load, but still, watching him put up sub Mendoza stats in April in May and then hit like gangbusters in August and September, when we were 20 games out of first really bugged me for those three seasons. Not to mention his “Jeff King without the dynamic personality” demeanor!
No on Laroche!

B Thomas

You are just way to quick to get rid of Pedro Alvarez. Especially at his lowest value, I would actually tender both him and Ike, and let Gabby walk. Who is to say that Pedro can’t play 3B again? This past season Alvarez was down and Harrison was up, what stops that from reversing next year? The Pirates are big on what a player is going to do in the future and not in the past, Alvarez potential is far greater than Ike’s, Gabby, and Harrison.


Can’t imagine that the Pirates will not consider Pedro to be a potential full-time, non-platoon, and therefore overall cheaper option at 1st base. I’m guessing that’s the direction they will go with Lambo, Tony Sanchez, etc., as back-up plans.


Oh, and if he gets back to a .770 OPS (with 36 HRs and 100 RBIs and way fewer errors because he’s not playing 3d base) I’m OK with that.


Whatever solution the pirates come up with this off season it better not be another “well folks we tried”moment. Starting pitching,first base and catcher are the priorities, if they succed in one of those categories I will accept the “well folks we tried” excuse in the other two cases. Not happilly accept, just accept.


I don’t think I ever heard the Pirates come up with an excuse, if they tried, then they tried, what do you want them to say? We didn’t really try, we are just trying to snow you! Most of the time when the Pirates try it involves big money and much litigation, there is no such thing as we tried just to make you happy.


Plus guys like loney/ morneau & josh johnson just didn’t want to come to thw burgh..


First has been a bermuda triangle for the bucs for quite some time now. Seems like anybody they plug in there sinks into quicksand, casey,laroche,bell,davis,sanchez ect. ect.. sad thing is anybody they have put at first in the last several years was either good before they got here or after they left. I’m not sure what the answer is going to be all I know is it’s time to say goodbye to the bucs personal albatross aka pedro alvarez, now that banister is in texas the rangers are even more of a good option than they were. Pedro could be the everyday dh while backing up both beltre at third and fielder at first and the rangers have a ton of infield prospects the pirates could use.


I would prefer that if Alvarez is traded, the Pirates get starting pitching – lefty with years of control left preferably.
If the Rangers have the most interest in Pedro, I would be looking for someone like Martin Perez in return – yes I realize that Perez underwent Tommy John surgery in May and won’t pitch until mid next year at the latest.
Perez is a 23 year old lefty in his 3rd major league season.


I don’t disagree, I would point out however the pirates lack of depth at the corner infield positions throughout the minors and the rangers glut of corner infield depth. If the rangers aquire pedro it would make at least one of those guys expendable to the rangers. It just seems to me that texas would be the least painfull to both teams with upside for both clubs. Not saying it’s gonna happen,just sayin it makes sense.


I am a big Ike fan but I have to ask which of these players has a better chance of being a team MVP? Ike’s career year was a fluke three years ago and. regardless of his OPS in 2012 it was no where near as important as Pedro, in 13 who often carried this team for long stretches. Last year, Pedro was dogged by injuries and defensive yips, while Ike was healthy from wire to wire. I see no reason to keep Gaby. You trade Ike, cut Gaby (no one will want his salary) and play Pete every day until Bell is ready for the job. Heck, I would be tempted to look at this as a free agent year: if Pedro was a Cubbie and a free agent, the Cardinals would toss him a four year $30M deal in a heartbeat and he would win two MVPs with them. Giving up on Alvarez would be as bad as giving up on Aramis Ramirez.


I’m not gonna tough most of that, but you did kind of touch on how each guy (Ike & Pedro) would fit in the lineup, and I think that’s a good conversation to have.

We know over the long run sequencing is mostly random and doesn’t have predictive value. But over short periods – even full seasons – its a factor.

Davis has really been two different hitters – the low OBP, high power hitter of the past and the high OBP, low power hitter of the present. If you’re going off what he’s been for the past two seasons, how much value doesn’t that guy really have low in the order where he’s basically counting on the 8 and 9 hitters to produce?


Good point. Walks are great for the #2 hitter.. not so much the #6 guy.. I like ike less now : ( was valuing those walks too much


What makes anyone think that Pedro can ever throw again? I don’t know how many players overcame that problem if any and why would you really think that he will be able to whip the ball around the infield without a problem at first. It seems like his best bet would be a DH and right field.
Also doesn’t it feel like our prospects are always one or two or five years away?
I know that is not absolutely true but it sure feels like it especially when they have glaring holes that need to be filled.


Removing throws from 3B to 1B, Ike Davis had more throwing errors in 2014 than Pedro Alvarez.

The nature of his issues, certainly mental, makes predicting what he’ll be able to do in the future pretty much impossible. But I think it’s worth noting that the overwhelming majority of his problems were one thing, throwing from 3B to 1B, and that obviously wouldn’t be an issue as a 1B.


But you can’t remove them, they’re in the official stats.
I admit that predicting somebody’s mental issues is not in our realm.


Where did I suggest you should?

All I said was the throw Alvarez struggled with is one that a 1B does not have to make.

You asked why anyone would trust Alvarez throwing the ball at 1B, I provided an answer.


We should try Petey at Catcher. He has never had a throwing error from that position



Everything depends on what they can get, they know that what they have is pretty much the same from player to player, they can get rid of any of them or all of them and it won’t make much difference. IMO, Neil Walker move to 1st base makes a lot of sense, take some of the money saved by dumping most or all of pretenders give it to Neil, bring up Hanson, I believe he will cut down on his errors a lot when he reaches the big show or If they move Neil, they could also put Harrison at 2nd and look for a good 3rd basemen or put Alvarez back over there.




Alvarez is gone in less than two years, no matter what. We played our best ball of the season without him in August and September. I forgot he was on the team. I like Ike!


Also, does anyone expect Walker to be with the Bucs beyond 2016?

Ron Loreski

Does anyone expect McCutchen to be with the Bucs beyond 2018?

R Edwards

Alvarez is the only one with significant upside and he may be highly motivated in a contract year – so, why not take advantage of it? In my book, its his job to lose. Plan B could be Lambo. I would look a RH hitting first baseman as a platoon partner.

I would try to trade both Ike Davis and Gabby Sanchez, although I doubt we could get much for either. If not, release them both and use the money elsewhere.


Why is this even a discussion. None of them should be automatically slotted for a job.

The Pirates have two WC finishes to their credit. Not a division, certainly not a pennant or a WS. They have to get BETTER. Which means they have to IMPROVE. I don’t see any of these three improving.

The idea that any of these three is going to produce an .800 OPS, let alone an .850 OPS, which is what you’d ideally want from a 1b, is laughable to me. If the team is going to settle for a .750 or lower OPS, then just give the job to Lambo and spend the $7 million elsewhere – plus you’d get some trade return for Pedro.


The Pirates have two WC finishes, the last one they were only one game behind for the division on the last day of the season, they have work to do and a couple of holes to fill, but not any more than any other team has to do.


If I get a good offer for Pedro I trade him, if not, he comes to spring training and we see if he can still play third. If he can’t, then he goes to first as part of a platoon.
I’ve seen enough of Gabby’s act and Ike did nothing to impress me. Gabby has turned into an old man in the last couple of years. Trade them for what you can get or DFA. They are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
No mention of Walker to first? With his bad back and declining range I think it’s the best place for him for the next year or two, especially if they think either Bell or Allie are going to be the long term answer at first.

I’d like to see them take a run at Chase Headley for third and move JHay to second. Headley, Mercer, JHay and Walker would give you an upgraded defense and major league hitters at each position, along with 2 switch-hitters, eliminating the need and expense for platoon partners for anyone.


I’m a big proponent of Walker to 1b. Simply didn’t mention it here as the context was “which of the three do you keep”?


Is there a good chance pedro gets over the yips at 3b? I thought his glove work was great..


Who knows. But I did find the 30/30 short on Mackey Sasser very interesting. The shrinks who eventually cured him tied his problem to a plate collision that released a childhood trauma or something like that. You can watch it here: http://grantland.com/features/30-for-30-shorts-fields-of-fear/


There doesn’t seem to be a salary issue at the moment for 2015 though.. if lambo is considered an equal option to ike then it makes sense.. retaining ike would provide depth at a weak position… it’s a lot to pay for that depth.. I’m currently not seeing where they’d spend that money anyhow.. I get the sense that this year will be similar to last year in that NH will have money to spend it but no one to really spend it on without severely strapping 2017/2018.. i haven’t really looked into the starting rotation options though so I may be missing a lot


There are many options for spending money. Including bullpen, although Neal is loathe to do that. There are many trade options out there that could bump up payroll, so it’s not simply what’s available in the FA market.

And I don’t worry about 2017 payroll as I’m assuming Walker and the $10 million he’ll be making by then won’t be returning. Nor will the back end of the bullpen, which is getting expensive for all the blown saves it contributes.


My thoughts on 2017 payroll is just to not have an albatross of a contract cause you needed a guy in 2015.. if they signed a guy like shields then sweet!!


They all will be back. Pedro is a 1B and 3B and will get 450 ABs. Ike is the primary 1B and gets 500 ABs and Gaby gets 150 ABs as RHH 1B/PH.

Gaby has had a .900 OPS against LHPs 3 of the past 5 years… and every year in the minors. Last year was the exception not the norm. Neal will pay $4M for 900 OPS in 150 ABs against LHPs.


I like your line of thinking as both Pedro and Ike have a lot more potential in them then they would net in a trade and are still reasonably paid. Gaby however, is overpaid and of no need. Buy Tabata glove if you really need to put RH1B on your roster but I give Alvarez and Ike all the at bats I can to get them hot.


Gaby’s OPS vs LHP means little if Clint keeps stumbling into situations where Gaby has to face RHP.

Gaby had almost as many ABs vs RHP as LHP – 142 vs 148. And the OPS split was .609/.746. The only reason that’s even tolerable is because Ike is laughably bad vs LHP – like worse than Michael Martinez bad – so whenever a LHP is brought into relief, Clint has no choice but to immediately stick Gaby in there – and then he’s stuck with him.

This has not proven to be a good solution.

If you’re going to assume the Bucs need to keep two of the three, then it has to be Alvarez. He at least gives you a small chance of being productive vs LHP vs none for Ike. They’re virtually a wash vs RHP.

But still, the best answer is likely “none of the above”.


Getting rid of either of the lefties scares me. Pedro the 3rd baseman is extremely valuable. Ike the 1st baseman can be pretty valuable.

Baseball Prospectus labeled Ike as a big breakout candidate for next year. They have accurately identified breakouts in previous years by… how i understand it… measuring the average distance from the middle of the plate that a player has been pitched in the previous year and either hoping or assuming that they’ll perform better if/when the average distance from the center of the plate decreases.

It just stinks that either one returning to 3 WAR/year just wouldn’t surprise me that much.


Now THAT is a very interesting method of projection !


Yeah, never heard of that…jay, you mind providing a link? or any more info?


Think I found it, Zone Distance? Cut off right when the explanation was getting interesting, though.


Here is an older, un-pay walled article, that goes through the methodology, I have seen a good number of articles discuss how pitchers are pitching certain hitters differently but only of the retrospective variety, never prospective.


That 2014 chart is somewhat prophetic.


Nice, thanks Andrew.

So then the logic says that pitching a given player further from the zone correlates to said player outperforming future expectations, and implies the hitter is actually good enough to adjust to the new manner in which he’s being pitched?


Rereading it, the 2nd to last paragraph addresses that, the assumption is that the hitter has also made a secondary adjustment to how he is being pitched.


I read it again and I think you’re correct.

I’m skeptical about how well Ike specifically fits this theory, now that I think I have a decent enough understanding of it. He’s already dropped his swing% significantly since 2012, and you have to figure he’s reaching the limits of how productive one can be by simply drawing walks. Seems like he’s going to have to eventually learn to hit the pitches pitchers are throwing him, and that’s where his hitch really limits him.


from the article that you did find, Ike Davis had the top “Zone Distance” in 2014.

and here’s the little blurb from the author specifically talking about Ike.

“In each of the past two years, in addition to the slate of moderate
over-performers there was at least one completely surprising and drastic
breakout (2013: Chris Davis; 2014: Victor Martinez). It’s impossible to detect who 2015’s player will be (if there will be one), but I am intrigued by Ike Davis.
Davis has flashed the raw ability necessary for elite play, and many of
his plate discipline statistics are trending in promising directions.
If he could also succeed in terrifying opposing pitchers into feeding
him plenty of outside pitches, it seems to me possible that he could put
together a truly superstar-class season. The change in zone distance is
certainly sudden and severe, as the following chart shows (with a LOESS
line fit).”

then he shows a chart of this “zone distance” where the best fit line hovers around 1.07 feet for about half the season and then BOOM it starts ramping up all the way up to 1.25 feet until the end of the season.

I don’t know what this means. But this author convinced me to be afraid of dealing Ike away.


Many, many thank Jay! Learned something new today.


I second that, the one thing that could be confounding this analysis is that Davis has been increasingly sheltered from LHP, percentages of plate appearance from 2010-14. 22.0%, 33.6%, 30.5%, 18.3%, 7.5%.


Those lists are also generally populated with pretty damn good hitters to start with. I mean, would anyone – abstractly – actually call Ortiz, Stanton, Cutch, Posey, etc “breakout” players in 2013?


Breakout isn’t the best wording, when it means beat projected performance.

Not sure what to think of Davis anymore, some in-depth scouting, more granular data is needed. I saw a comment elsewhere that the performance of <.150 ISO, than some BB rate players, is not good in the following season. And I agree that the question is, is Davis’s power still there and can he make quality contact, not the best era to be a extremely selective.



Hanson, Allie, Bell etc all need another year. One more year of Gaby and Ike/Pedro. Two of the three are gone next offseason. Not this offseason where we need them since the kids aren’t ready yet.


As much as I liked the trade at the time, I’m not sold on Ike going forward. His career numbers are skewed by his first few (and perhaps as importantly, his pre-Valley Fever) years. He’s been dead level replacement the last two years, and I don’t see any signs of him bouncing back. Additionally, you’re selling low on Alvarez; I mean, if someone overwhelms you with an offer for Pedro, fine, but I can’t see keeping Davis around otherwise.


Please Pirates spend the money on Martin and Liriano, and go with just Lambo at 1st base….


Yonder Alonso, still just 27, has hit like a league average bat most of his career in SD. He is also one of the best 1B defenders. The Padres have to be frustrated with him and he is even a DFA candidate.


He looked like the light came on for a stint last year as well. Maybe just getting out of dego is all he needs..


I just can’t understand why anyone thinks Ike Davis is an option – sorry Tim
– He is a below average defender – both getting to balls and helping out his infielders now and then – something that matters a LOT for team that wants a lot of ground balls.
– he has very little power – has not hit for power since his one good year – and that was years ago.


I think he’s just an option cause he’s currently on our roster.. if he was a free agent not sure he would be.. given the choice between ike and getting something in return for pedro.. or pedro and getting nothing for ike.. I would take ike and hope his power returns.. letting the group walk maybe the best option if someone comes up in free agency.. the market looks similar to last year though.. with maybe laroche being a plus


I’m assuming a descent return for pedro.. starting pitcher. Hank conger.. like guy


I have absolutely no idea what will happen. All i do know is that last time the Pirates had a left handed platoon 1b who was due for a raise on his 4 mil salary through arbitration, and struggled the previous year was Garrett Jones. Garrett Jones then signed with the Marlins.

I’m not terribly attached to any of the players. I would like them to keep Gaby though, but not through arbitration. Do what they did with Karstens. Non tender, then re-sign for less. I can’t imagine any team would pay him what he’d get in arbitration. There has to be some lefty mashing left in that bat.

I would also send a call to Boston. Maybe they’d trade Napoli now that they have Craig. With Napoli, they wouldn’t have to worry about a platoon anymore.


After last year I can see Boston trying to dump Craig on someone. Hopefully not the Pirates.

dr dng

Ok. So what would LaRoche cost us in the free agent market? I assume we would have money not spent on Martin available. I would hope it would not cost us stupid money, but with the release of some players etc. some decent money should be available?


Alvarez will be a lot cheaper than Larouche and he has too much upside. Although Adam has had a terrific career and was a great second half player, fans would barf at bringing him back and at age 35, it would wreak of a Jeremy Burnitz move. Not a chance in the world.

dr dng

NSA, you have a very, very good point.
I did not realize he would be that old.



Can’t see the Bucs breaking the bank for Adam if they won’t do it for Russ.


I personally think the difference between the two is number of years.. assuming we can get adam for two and it takes 4/5 to get martin..


They have a lot of money to play with. if they filled all the holes with internal options, their payroll would be like…

$65 million.

They’re probably going to sign either Russ, a good 1b, or a good SP this offseason.


assuming the Nats don’t resign or QO him.


The word down here in DC is that LaRoche is highly not likely to have his options picked up by the Nats. And his actions after thier loss in the playoffs seemed to suggest he knew he wouldn’t be back. They expect Ryan Zimmerman to move to first base because of his throwing issues. They have Rendon at 3rd who is a much better fielder and other options at 2nd base. Having said that, I was not a fan of LaRoche in Pittsburgh. In a lineup with Jason Bay, Freddie Sanchez, Nate McLouth and Xavier Nady during their best years, LaRoche never seemed to turn it on until the Pirates were out of it and trading away players. He was mostly good for the Nats, though.


Laroche is one of the most underrated Pirates of all time. Sign me up.


LaRoche wasn’t underrated, in over 1500 plate appearance with the Pirates he posted 109 wRC+, despite LaRoche’s disposition to the contrary during his time with the Pirates April games count. LaRoche only looks good when the comparison group is Jeff Clement, Lyle Overbay, and Steve Pearce.


and 2014 Ike Davis and 2014 Pedro Alvarez and 2013 Garrett Jones.

see above. my opinion is more about people hating him more than was deserved than me thinking he was great.


Well I’m biased, I one of the ones who disliked him, showing up two years in a row not prepared for the season wore on me. He was a fine role player, maybe people expected more, I’m not sure, but I don’t really want to see him back.


Obviously subjective, but I personally think it’s interesting how much the change in run scoring environments has impacted this thought.

LaRoche, in his most successful season as a Pirate, posted a .358 wOBA, good for 17% above league average. In 2014, LaRoche posted a .356 wOBA, and that was 27% above league average.

Basically, I think we’re comparing 2008 LaRoche to 2014 players, which does seem very good.


i had this opinion back when he was on the team.

it was more about fans for the most part hating him and thinking he was terrible back then, when meanwhile he was a perfectly okay player.


i am aware he wasn’t and isn’t a star. but he was/is a viable 1st baseman who was treated like he was an awful player (in my own personal experience).


Wonder if it was lack of leadership on those bucco teams and he was looked at for more then hitting a baseball


“If you think one player is going to bounce back, then you’d have to think both guys will bounce back.”

Oh, so that’s how baseball works.

David Lewis

I believe Tim’s point was that there is no evidence to predict that a bounceback is more likely from either player. You can’t say, “We should keep Ike because he’s due to bounce back” without also considering that it may be Alvarez who bounces back. Or vice-versa.

If you’re planning 2015 based on upside, you have to compare the upside of both; if you’re planning it based on downside, you have to compare the downside of both. You can’t compare one’s upside to the other’s downside.

B Thomas

Ike hasn’t really been good for about 3 years now. Alvarez is a year removed from leading the NL in HRs. Tim is wrong in this case.


Is that true, though?


I am not sure ANYONE can say “surely” Alvarez’s offense was affected by his D. His BEST offensive year he led the league in errors also.


I like ike! Pedro seems to struggle with the concept of hitting the ball to all fields.. I thought ike bought into the concept moreso. . Unless they make an acception for pedro and let him just pull everything then ike is my choice.. morneau had a huge issue with the approach as well


No mention of Lambo in the mix?


Yes please. If Lambo could play first at a reasonable level then the Pirates could trade away the 3 headed monstrosity currently at 1b. Use the money to resign Martin AND probably Liriano. IMO Lambo+Martin+Liriano> Alvarez, Davis, Gabby


No mention of Lamborghini in the mix?

Lee Foo Rug Bug

That would work for me!

Scott Kliesen

I agree with Tim about most of this article, except for the part where he says with regard to Alvarez & Davis, “if you believe one will bounce back, you have to believe both will bounce back.” There are a couple valid reasons I prefer Alvarez to bounce back and not Davis. First, Alvarez surely had his offense affected by his throwing woes. Any human would have their confidence shaken when going through something like he went through. By moving him to 1B, his throwing will be severely restricted, allowing him to regain his confidence in the game and his swing. Next, Alvarez has put up his career best season more recently and here in Pittsburgh. Whereas Davis has been on a downswing for a couple years now, and proved he is not a reliable primary platoon option for our Bucs.

Could you imagine the outrage if the opening day lineup has Ike Davis at 1B and Chris Stewart at C. No way the Pirates brass would let that happen! No freakin way!


It’s not the ideal situation for sure.. there doesn’t seem to be any no brainer reasonable alternatives at the moment though does there? Which i think is great cause it provides discussion for the offseason.. lol.. I wish hockey tickets weren’t so darn expensive. . Hockey on tv just isn’t the same

Mike C.

A question for Tim for anyone knowledgeable, are there not any relatively cheap right handed platoon type players in FA or in a trade to replace Gaby?
The RHB will probably only start 50-60 games with less than 300 PAs
(Gaby’s #s, which were too high btw imo). almost Half to 1/3 the #s the
LHB will play. No need to over pay here if we can.


Almost nobody does Gaby’s job better than Gaby. Last year was the first year in which he didn’t mash lefties.


The pirates as a whole had a bad year against lefties, even if they won a game a lefty started they did not fare so well against the starter but instead got to the other teams pen late in the game.


Even the numbers show they had a below average year (tOPS/sOPS) relative to their own overall performance and the league’s. Other than Josh and Jordy, none of the RHB starters had better splits vs LHP than RHP. They didn’t find out Snider could hit LHP until late in the year. Gaby didn’t mash ’em. Stewie did, but only 35 ABs.


Do you guys just look at the numbers and derive whatever conclusion fits your priors.

1) The Pirates had a bad year against LHP.
97 OPS+ is not bad, 103 wRC+ vs LHP ranks 13th in the MLB.

2)Even in a game with a lefty starter, they did not fare so well against the starter but instead got to the other teams pen late
101 OPS+ against LH starting pitching, scoring 4.12 runs/game against the starter, compared to 4.23 runs/game against RH starting pitching.

3)Even the numbers show they had a below average year (tOPS/sOPS) relative to their own overall performance and the league’s.
See #1

4)none of the RHB starters had better splits vs LHP than RHP
Yes but Pirates RHH had 116 wRC+ against LHP, 5th in the MLB>


Sorry andrew, numbers not withstanding but it is true. Anybody who watched the pirates struggles against lefties last year would agree that the bucs were stimied by lefties with a couple of exeptions all year.


Sorry. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Not their own facts


Haha, yeah, facts not withstanding, you’re correct.


I wonder if he sorta flubbed last year intentionally once he realized he wasn’t going to get a chance at an everyday job


i sure hope that’s not the case haha. I guess it subconsciously could happen though.


I’m only speculating cause he started the year off in sucj great shape and that he was chubbs by end of year.. just figured he was depressed cause he didn’t really get the opportunity he deserved.. instead they traded for ike


Well there is at least one I can think of and I wouldn’t mind giving him a shot but there is a lot of downside with him. I’m talking about Corey Hart. He has crushed lefties in his career posting an .865 OPS and 130 wRC+ against them. He also has been decent against RHP. Hart also would have the ability to stand out in RF if needed.

Of course the risk is he missed all of 2013 and was awful last year but one could think it had something to do with his injuries. I imagine he would come quite cheaply perhaps even only a minor league deal but there is real upside there.


I would have liked the pirates to get him last year. Maybe I’m wrong but did’nt seattle sign him to a two year deal? If not I would not be a bad move by the pirates on a minor league contract.


The name I’ve yet to see pop up in the first base discussion is Travis snider. If his last few months was legit why not get his bat in the lineup and use Alvarez as a bench bat or injury replacement at third and Harrison can move to fill in for the injury.


I like the idea of snider at 1b.. there doesn’t seem to be any thought of the move within the organization so I’m just assuming he’s too short 🙂

Ron Loreski

Andrew Lambo could step in to the 4th OF role in that situation.


Travis is a valuable OF for us until Polanco forces him out. Lambo should make the team but as Pedro’s backup at 2B and a PH, at which he was quite good down the stretch. We don’t need a righty 1B if Pedro’s starting everyday.

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